Norway: Juliana tours a countryside rich in culture and truly powered by nature
My journey began last month as I had the opportunity to travel with Innovation Norway, the Norwegian government’s official trade representative abroad. I found so much more than the breathtaking and majestic fjords most associated with Norway. What I came to see were awe inspiring waterfalls, mountain ranges with 360 degree views, peaks and icy glaciers, lakes (Norway is the home to over 450,000 fresh water lakes), and gleaming rivers synonymous for fabulous salmon fishing lasting from June through September. Here I discovered so much more than just admiring the landscapes, Norway is loaded with culture and full of people that truly appreciate the outdoors and who are especially proud of their rich history.
A destination in itself, The Walaker Hotel, is a member of the Norwegian Heritage Hotels and Historical Hotels of Europe and is surrounded by some of Norway’s best known attractions such as; the Lustrafjord – the innermost arm of the Sognefjord, the Jostedal Glacier, the Stave Church at Urnes which is a UNESCO World Heritage site, minutes from the ferry from Nærøyfjord to Gudvangen and many other great sites. I would encourage anyone to have the amazing experience of staying at this wonderful hotel, and experiencing the charming village of Solvorn.
At the Walaker I discovered so much more than I could have ever expected. After settling into my room in the Annex, the newest of three buildings, I walked into the living room of the main building where I met the hotelier Ole Henrik, the Nitter family’s 9th generation owner. The Walaker Hotel stands as the oldest hotel in Norway dating back to 1640, and owned by the Nitter Family since 1690.
He welcomed us and gave an animated, proud, and vivid description of the history of the hotel and the picturesque small village of Solvorn. The hotel offers accommodation in 23 rooms in three buildings, and I would recommend booking one the rooms of the main building. During dinner is when I truly felt I was taken back to a time in history especially after hearing Ole Henrik’s nostalgic account. Our four course meal was definitely one of the best I had while in Norway. The service and presentation were beautiful and everything from the venison in our appetizers to the berries in our dessert were from local farms and growers.
My entrée for the evening was pan-seared halibut accompanied with sautéed squash and portobello mushrooms, served with pommes Anna and sauce choron. It was very delicious! All together perfectly paired with a nice white wine chosen by the owner.
After dinner, we visited the Walaker Gallery, located in an old out house in the back of the main building. I learned that it had been originally built in the 1600’s as a church— with careful inspection we could still see some of the original wood adorning a beautiful design like swirling rose petals. After admiring the paintings and details around the rooms of the gallery themselves, I walked outside to find one of the most clear and abundantly starlit skies I have ever seen.
The next morning, started perfectly after seeing a gorgeous sunrise from across the Lustrafjorden, the innermost arm of the Sognefjord. Watching the sun slowly peek over the mountain top, here I enjoyed the most delicious breakfast I had in Norway. The fresh breads were amazing, as was the home-made fresh apple juice, the variety of local jams, and delicious goat cheeses. These details show that this hotel really is special, not just by its history but in the way the guests are made to feel as if they are a part of the family even if far from home.
Call 800.633.1008 or 813.251.5355